Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sheldon Lord: Kept

As you've noticed, I've been reading Lawrence Block's old sleaze novels lately. The quality hasn't been as good as Block's reputation would indicate, but as I'm writing an article about the reprint boom of old sleaze paperbacks, I wanted to try another one: Kept, as by Sheldon Lord (Midwood, 1960). Lord was a pseudonym Block used in his novels (such as Pads Are For Passion, reprinted as A Diet of Treacle), but then again this website says Kept was actually written by Donald Westlake.

I couldn't tell. Kept could be by either one as the prose is smooth and very readable, just as both Westlake and Block can deliver. I read the book in Finnish translation (it was published as Maksettu rakastaja in the mid-sixties by Finnbooks in their short-lived series called Domino) and for all I know, it could be abridged or altered in any other way.

I was rather disappointed in Kept, because I went in looking for a criminous content, but there was none! This could've been a romance paperback, save for the fact that there are some candid sex scenes (candid for their own time, mind you) and that the lead character is a man. The book starts off promisingly, a bit like Postman Always Rings Twice, with a beautiful, young woman picking up a hobo man off the side of the road. But in the end nothing much happens: the boy gets the girl and that's about it. There's some fascinating Mad Men territory being covered here, though: penthouse luxury, new hi-fi stuff, well-cut suits, bossing women around at the office, drinks consumed almost at all times, all that.

But all in all, I'm not sure if I share the Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks conviction this should be reprinted. (But take this with a grain of salt, since I read the translation.)

The great original cover is by Paul Rader.

By the way, here's a link to the Finnish Domino series. Any comments on the books published in it?


Trent said...

I'm also trying to figure out if this one's a Westlake or a Block. The evidence at this point leans Block.

It has been reprinted, just a couple of weeks ago, in a rather gorgeous edition from Blackbird Books.

Juri said...

Oh, I didn't know that. So Blackbird Books does print books? I stumbled upon some mention of them, but I thought they were e-books.